Eli Tomac wins fifth straight in Supercross Round 12 in Seattle; Hunter Lawrence takes 250 West


Eli Tomac scored his fifth consecutive Monster Energy Supercross victory by winning Round 12 in Seattle, Washington, and extending his points lead.

The Yamaha rider put on a showcase Saturday night, leading all 26 laps, lapping all but seven riders and winning by more than 10 seconds.

With the 44th win of his career, Tomac tied Chad Reed for fourth on the all-time list. If Tomac can win four of the last five rounds, he will tie Ricky Carmichael for third. At 50 wins, second-ranked James Stewart is just out of reach during 2022.

With a 54-point lead, Tomac has a two-race lead over Jason Anderson and could wrap up the championship as early as Round 15 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Tomac doesn’t get a lot of holeshots. He’s made a career of coming through the pack, but in a season when it appears he is on a collision course with one record after another, Tomac is checking all the boxes. He jumped out to a safe lead over Justin Barcia in the first half of the race and when that rider crashed midway, he was more than 12 seconds ahead of the field.

“My main focus was to put the hammer down,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “Justin (Barcia) was putting the pressure on me those first few laps and we were putting on a heater pace. I just kept going and was really good that first part. Once he made the mistake, I had a big gap, but it was tough.”

Click here for complete 450 results

Last week’s dustup with Barcia was damaging to Anderson’s title push. Finishing sixth at Indianapolis, Anderson had not been in the top five in three weeks, so it was critical for him to get a strong run. Anderson won his heat but could not catch Tomac in the main event. Anderson minimized the points’ damage by finishing second.

“That track out there was brutal,” Anderson told Daniel Blair. “I wasn’t riding the best all day, but I was able to salvage all that. Coming out second was nice, and it didn’t cost me three points or three grand to get past Barcia, so it was a good night.”

Anderson’s final comment from the podium was in reference to the rough riding penalty Barcia incurred last week for an incident in Indianapolis.

A week after being docked three points and fined $3,000 for his contact with Anderson in Indianapolis, Barcia won his heat race. He has five podiums this year but has not yet found Victory Lane. Barcia jumped wide midway through the main and landed on a Tuff Blox. He remounted and finished fifth, which is his eighth consecutive finish of sixth or better.

Marvin Musquin earned his second consecutive podium finish with a third place. Musquin is two points behind Cooper Webb for fifth in the points.

“To get on the podium tonight is huge,” Musquin said, “I had a good day. Practice went really good; the speed was good. I just didn’t have the pace the first few laps, I got smoked by the two guys out front. They were gone.”

Malcolm Stewart had a strong fourth in the main event after leading seven of nine laps and finishing third in his heat. In fact, Heat 2 was a snapshot of the early part of the season with Anderson winning, Tomac finishing second, and Stewart in third. It was only a few weeks ago that these three riders were the top points contenders.

Chase Sexton suffered a hard crash in qualification and missed the main event after his bike landed on him.

Cooper Webb also experienced problems in the prelims but was able mount up for his heat. He got a slow start in his heat and climbed to only sixth. He also finished sixth in the main event.

The 250 West riders have not been on the track for five weeks, and the riders chasing points’ leader Christian Craig were determined to make up some ground in the championship.

In the opening minutes of the race, it didn’t seem they would be able to slow his momentum when Craig got a strong start and scooted out to an early lead. But Michael Mosiman locked onto his back wheel and would not allow him to get away. Three minutes into the Main, Mosiman made an aggressive move on Craig and dropped the leader in his tracks. Craig fell to sixth after the contact.

Meanwhile, the battle at the front of the pack continued with Hunter Lawrence now chasing Mosiman.

Of course, Craig is the points’ leader for a reason. He posted the fastest laps in the middle segment and slowly cut the leader’s advantage as Lawrence passed Mosiman and tried to ride off into the sunset.

“I’m so focused on every day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Daniel Blair. “Honestly, the team today saved my ass. We were struggling with the bike through the whole day show. We had to make some calls that were like, if we get it wrong we could be screwed. I had to have faith and trust in my team.”

Lawrence was not as pleased with his first Supercross win as he might have been because it came in a Triple Crown format. He was running well the last time the 250 West riders hit the track in Anaheim before crashing, so this race held a special place.

With five minutes remaining in the race, Craig caught Mosiman and breezed past. Craig closed in on Lawrence and cut the lead to less than two seconds. The lead fluctuated and the outcome was not certain until the checkers, but Craig still had the biggest comeback of the race.

“I’m not going to lie; I’m sour about how that all went,” Craig told Will Christien. “I did what I did. I started out front and Michael was a little faster in the beginning. That’s three times now I get cleaned out. I’m sour, but I was able to once again salvage, get up, put on a charge and get up to second.”

Mosiman held on to finish third after repulsing a huge charge by Jo Shimoda, but that was enough to drop him from second to third in the standings. Mosiman is now 30 points out of the lead and four behind Lawrence.

“It was going really good for me,” Mosiman said. “I made some really good solutions. I had a rough start in qualifying and the heat – and then I ripped one in the Main. I was proud I was right up there with Christian. I was fast in the whoops, I really feel like I had something for him tonight. I made an aggressive move going for the championship and I ended up bending my rotor. I guess that’s what happens when you’re trying to make aggressive passes. I didn’t have any rear brake for the rest of the moto.”

Jo Shimoda in fourth and Vince Friese rounded out the top five.

Click here for 250 results


ROUND 1, ANAHEIM: Ken Roczen renews battle with Cooper Webb by winning the opener

ROUND 2, OAKLAND: Jason Anderson wins for first time since championship season

ROUND 3, SAN DIEGO: Chase Sexton (450s) and Michael Mosiman (250s) deliver first career wins

ROUND 4, ANAHEIM: Four races, four winners as Eli Tomac solidifies points lead

ROUND 5, GLENDALE: Tomac wins back-to-back races in Arizona Triple Crown

ROUND 6, ANAHEIM: Anderson ties Tomac with two 2022 wins

ROUND 7, MINNEAPOLIS: Anderson does it again and closes to within three of Tomac

ROUND 8, ARLINGTON: Tomac wins overall as Anderson takes two features

ROUND 9, DAYTONA: History made as Tomac sets Daytona Supercross record

ROUND 10, DETROIT: Tomac wins incident-filled, third consecutive

ROUND 11, INDIANAPOLIS: Tomac extends lead as competition falters

The Thermal Club wants an IndyCar race, and series executives liked its initial impact at test


THERMAL, Calif. – Many teams in the NTT IndyCar Series questioned the relevancy of having a two-day preseason test at The Thermal Club.

The team owners, drivers and engineers believed the 17-turn, 3.067-mile race course that winds and twists its way through a gated private community (about 45 minutes southeast of Palm Springs) had no relevance to any track on the 17-race schedule.

To the leaders of IndyCar, however, there was plenty of relevance to hosting its “Spring Training” at a sort of motorsports country club that caters to extremely wealthy residents who also are automotive enthusiasts.

“Both with our stakeholders and the media that covers IndyCar, we wanted them to know that we are going to do things differently,” Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles told NBC Sports from the private VIP viewing area that overlooks the long straights and twisting turns of the course. “This is going to be a year when we expect our growth to go to a whole new level.

“What better way to send that message than to be at a place we have never been that is exceptional?

“The quality of this place; the facilities are off the charts. The customer service, the welcoming feeling you get from the staff here. The track itself is fast. The drivers are having a great time on it.

FRIDAY SPEEDSThird session l Fourth session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“It really sent a message to our other promoters and our drivers and team owners that something is up. We want fans around the country and the sports industry to know that something is going on with IndyCar this year.”

The Thermal Club is a concept driven by Tim Rogers, who made his fortune by supplying gasoline to 7-Eleven stores in 36 states. He wanted to create a private community that mixed multimillion-dollar homes and luxury villas with a high-speed race course.

The two-day IndyCar “Spring Training” was the most ambitious motorsports project yet for The Thermal Club.

Rogers wants it to be the first step in a long-term goal for the community.

“Our endgame is we want to host an IndyCar Series race at The Thermal Club one day,” Rogers told NBC Sports as IndyCar hit the track again Friday morning. “This was a good trial to see how the facility can handle it and if the facility works for them.”

Felix Rosenqvist makes laps in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet during the first day of NTT IndyCar Series testing (Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images).

The two-day test was closed to the general public. It was open only to credentialed news media, members of the Thermal Club and a limited number of their guests.

With the spectacular backdrop of the Coachella Valley that is rimmed with snow-capped mountains, The Thermal Club could provide a great setting for an NBC telecast of an IndyCar Series race (and possibly line up a big sponsor for a return on its investment with a larger than normal audience during a ripe time such as the first weekend of February).

NASCAR is using that same model Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum by hosting the Busch Light Clash. The National Football League’s AFC and NFC Championship games were last weekend and next Sunday is the Super Bowl.

“That could work, but we have room where we could separate the public and the private members area, too,” Rogers said. “We could accommodate 4,000 or so of the general public.

“This would be a premium event for a premium crowd.”

Rogers’ dream of The Thermal Club began 11 years ago. He will talk to IndyCar about a return for Spring Training next year with hopes of getting a date on the schedule for 2025.

“Whatever fits,” Rogers said.

Miles and Penske Entertainment, the owners of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indianapolis 500, realize Rogers has an ambitious dream of getting a race on the schedule.

Miles, however, isn’t ready to indicate that a race at Thermal is part of IndyCar’s future (though drivers seem open to the concept).

“Tim and everybody at The Thermal Club have done a phenomenal job of being hosts here for this test,” Miles said. “Everybody is very happy we are here, and I expect we will find a way to continue to be here. Whether that means a race and when is really a bridge we aren’t ready to cross yet.

“We really like opening the championship season each year in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’ll have to see. But it’s a great way to start the season in this way, and right now, we are happy to be here.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Defending IndyCar champion Will Power takes laps at The Thermal Club during the first day of the track’s first test (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

On track, it was a successful two-day test session with 27 car/driver combinations that will compete in IndyCar in 2023. It’s the largest field for IndyCar since the 1990s. There were a few spins here and there but no major incidents across 2,560 laps.

Kyle Kirkwood led the final session Friday while getting acquainted with his new No. 27 team at Andretti Autosport. Kirkwood has replaced Alexander Rossi at Andretti, whom Kirkwood drove for in Indy Lights.

His time of 1 minute, 38.827 seconds (111.721 mph) around the 3.067-mile road course was the fastest of the fourth and final session. But the fastest speed over two days was defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing in the Friday morning session (1:38.4228, 112.182 mph in the No. 8 Honda).

Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing was second in the final session at 1:38.8404 (111.707 mph) in the No. 77 Chevrolet. Rookie Marcus Armstrong of New Zealand was third at 1:38.8049 (111.707 mph) in the No. 11 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing was fourth at 1:38.8718 (111.672 mph) in the No. 10. Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske rounded out the top five at 1:38.9341 (111.602 mph) in the No. 12 Chevrolet.

Ericsson was the fastest in combined times followed by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard at 1:38.5682 in the No. 45 Honda, Kirkwood, Ilott and Armstrong. Positions 3-5 speeds were from the final practice session on Friday.

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
With members’ houses in the background, Romain Grosjean navigates the turns of The Thermal Club in his No. 28 Dallara-Honda (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

Drivers didn’t know what to expect before hitting the track. After the two-day test was over, NBC Sports asked several drivers what they learned from The Thermal Club.

“I think it’s a first-class facility, no doubt,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske said. “I think the entire facility here at Thermal really rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a tremendous job.

“It was a fairly flawless test, I would say, for two days. I think the great thing about this was we had a two-day test, which was fantastic. You got to have this warmup; this preseason build. That was the biggest positive for me, is that we were here, we were running cars. It was a great facility to do it at.

IndyCar Thermal Club test
Josef Newgarden said his No. 2 team (which has a new lead engineer) used The Thermal Club test as an opportunity for building cohesion (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).
Indycar Series Test - Day 2
Josef Newgarden (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

“I think the track was a lot more fun than we anticipated. It was challenging, definitely technical. I don’t know how relevant it is. For us, it wasn’t really relevant to anywhere we’re going, but that’s OK.”

But even though the track has no sector particularly similar to any road or street course on the schedule, there still were benefits.

“In a lot of ways, it is relevant,” Newgarden said. “For us it was relevant for building the team up, trying to work in a competitive environment, be competitive together. That’s everything. So regardless of is the setup going to apply to a certain track or another, (it) doesn’t really matter.

“For us, it was applying the principles of how we’re going to work together. From that standpoint, it was very productive for everybody. Raceability-wise, it’s hard to say. It was chewing tires up. Big drop-off from run one to two. I think from a race standpoint, that would be quite positive. You’d have big tire deg here.

“You’d have to do more work on runoff areas if we wanted to race here, but it’s possible. I don’t think it would take much effort to do the things to run an actual race.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Will Power (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Kirkwood found speed in his Andretti Autosport machine, but he used the test to create a smooth working relationship with his new crew.

“I wouldn’t say that we found something here that is going to translate to anywhere, right?” the 2021 Indy Lights champion said. “This is a very unique track, although it was a lot of fun to drive, and it kind of surprised me in the amount of grip that it actually produced.

“It was quite a bit faster than what we expected.”

Many of the NTT IndyCar Series teams will test later this month at Sebring, Florida, as they prepare for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to kick off the season March 5.

“It’s a very nice facility, a nice area, it’s pretty cool to have two days of testing here with a lot of high-profile people,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske told NBC Sports. “It’s a very technical, tough track.

“It’s pretty good.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 2
IndyCar drivers turns laps on the second day of testing at The Thermal Club, which is nestled in the Coachella Valley that is ringed by mountains in Southern California (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

The Thermal Club received rave reviews, welcomed IndyCar and provided exposure to the movers and shakers of the business community that own the luxury villas and homes in this ultra-rich community.

Could it be a venue of the future for a series that sells lifestyle as much as on-track competition?

“This is a fantastic facility and the circuit is a fast circuit,” team owner Bobby Rahal told NBC Sports. “It’s pretty exciting to watch the cars run around here. I think it would be attractive to people.

“I’ll leave that up to Mark Miles and (IndyCar President) Jay Frye and everybody else whether we have a race here, but why not?

“It’s a great place.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500